Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ireland’s new blasphemy law

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Whatev’r can dey be tinkin’? Just as the British Government abolishes its ancient blasphemy laws and defines ‘faith groups’ as any group which happens to possess a ‘world view’ and ‘moral values’ (why are political parties not ‘faith groups’?), the Irish Republic is proposing a new crime of blasphemous libel in which: “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”

And this ‘blasphemous matter’ is defined as that which ‘is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.’

How are the courts to determine what is grossly abusive or insulting? How is this to be distinguished from that which is merely abusive or insulting?

It is a bizarre development – and one which will have Cranmer’s secularist and atheist readers spluttering and spitting with incredulity – because Ireland presently has no crime of blasphemous libel on the statute books. At the moment it is quite legal to exclaim ‘Saints preserve us!’, but all mention of such terms is about to be subject to the tolerance of the Garda. Blasphemy is currently prohibited by the Constitution, which says: “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent material is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.” And that which is prohibited by the Irish Constitution is, as it was in the United Kingdom, that which pertains to the church and to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

But Article 40 of the Irish constitution guarantees freedom of speech, particularly that of the ‘organs of public opinion’ – television, radio, cinema and the press.

Who doubts that as the Republic redrafts its constitutional article along the lines of article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, freedom of expression shall be diminished?

It is not possible to accord a ‘special’ status for the church or for Christianity in a state which pursues the logical consequences of the prohibition of religious discrimination. Protection for Christianity is manifestly incompatible with religious equality provisions. And when other faiths are raised to the level of Christianity, there will be a steady stream of religio-litigious fanatics who will insist that all literary, artistic, social and academic merit is to be subsumed to the ‘outrage’ the work has ‘caused’. Any play, poem, article, painting, drawing, song, essay, thesis, etc., etc., which is considered to be ‘grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by (insert religion)’ shall be censored.

Ominously, where a person is convicted of an offence under this law, ‘the court may issue a warrant authorising the Garda Síochána to enter, if necessary using reasonable force, a premises where the member of the force has reasonable grounds for believing there are copies of the blasphemous statements in order to seize them’.

At last, Ireland is moving beyond the confines of Catholic and Protestant, for this is all about Islam, for Muslims still take blasphemy very, very seriously. Asserting that Islam is not a true religion or that Mohammed is not a prophet could soon land one with a very hefty fine of €100,000. If this Bill passes into law, editors are going to have to think long and hard before publishing a cartoon or printing an article by some hard-hitting columnist that Muslims might not like.

Dr Paisley had also better stop referring to the Pope as the Antichrist.

And the more Cranmer thinks about this, it occurs to him that even the declaration that one is Protestant is likely cause great offence in some parts of the Republic. And all mention of potatoes will surely be banned.

Perhaps most ominously, this law would not be limited to the offences committed on Irish peat. Potentially, any EU compositor of 'blasphemous' material that is read by an Irish audience could be affected. The Irish Government could invoke their rights under the EU Arrest warrant to have such a 'criminal' extradited.

Religio-political blogging is becoming a rather dangerous pursuit. And Cranmer has never been to Dublin.


Blogger Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Many years ago there was a newspaper apology and correction appeared in, I believe, the Belfast Telegraph:

"in his recent article in these pages on the power of the papacy Dr Paisley referred to his Holiness the Pope as 'His Satanic Majesty.' We wish to apologise. This should in fact have read 'the Roman Antichrist.'"

5 May 2009 at 07:34  
Blogger Morus said...

Never been to Dublin, Your Grace?

You're missing out - I think you'd love it.

5 May 2009 at 07:46  
Anonymous Kwelos said...

Am I paranoid, or do I detect the long arm and fat petrodollar-stuffed wallet of the OIC behind this?

5 May 2009 at 08:02  
Blogger Gnostic said...

This is the will of the Irish government who are beholden to the EU for pots of cash, not the Irish people. It may be punishment for the Irish "no" vote.

The Irish aren't stupid. If this ridiculous law is passed then it can only serve to tighten the resolve against the next Lisbon Treaty vote.

As for the accompanying image, Your Grace, I believe it offends no one. It seems Jesus was a bit of a party animal in his time. Wasn't it he who turned water into wine for a marriage feast? Perhaps because Guinness hadn't been invented...

5 May 2009 at 08:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

‘At last, Ireland is moving beyond the confines of Catholic and Protestant, for this is all about Islam, for Muslims still take blasphemy very, very seriously.’

It may not be all about Islam but about all religion.

If the law is enacted it will put in train MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) of all religion as members of each religion litigate against other religions. The effect will be to silence religion in the public square.

Religious values support resistance to the humanistic values of the EU. The destruction of religious values is necessary for the ‘unity in diversity’ of the EU.

The vacuum created by the elimination of religious values in the public square will need to be filled by a new set of humanistic values. EU theorists know, just like the Caesars, that a set of unifying values are essential to hold a vast empire like the EU together. Failure to establish a new set of values may lead to the destabilization of the EU as the risk of another set of values hostile to the EU may emerge. That risk needs to be suppressed.
All this, of course, may be to set the stage for the emergence of the ‘Anti-Christ’ – although I think it is too early for that.

5 May 2009 at 09:17  
Anonymous Irish Pete said...

Dublin is not what it used to be, now riddled with immigrants. But still a must visit Your Grace. Take the Irish Ferries from Holyhead which go straight into Dublin. Take the open top bus tour. Then get yourself down to the Temple Bar area and slaunche a pint or two of the black velvet.

5 May 2009 at 09:41  
Blogger Dissenter said...

Worrying. From what I read, the Canadians and Australians are already living in fear of being ruined by lawsuits if they dare to criticise Islam.

Surely better to have NO blasphemy laws than all-embracing laws which restrict free speech. its not as if blasphemy laws have prevented Christian baiting.

Still, there is one tiny little thing I can do about it. I have a vote in a Lib-Dem/Tory marginal which is currently held by 'liberal' (on some issues) Chris Huhne, who supported the banning of Geert Wilders. I was going to vote UKIP but will now vote Tory because of this. Its not much, but its something.

5 May 2009 at 10:07  
Blogger chris r said...

Surely such a blasphemy law would bring about the banning of religion of any kind altogether?

The New Testament is grossly offensive to Muslims; The Koran is grossly offensive to Christians...

Your Grace, next time you write on such a topic, I dare you to provide a picture of someone who might, perhaps, look a little like Mohammed might, perhaps, have looked like, holding what might, perhaps, be construed as a pint of Guiness.

5 May 2009 at 11:01  
Blogger chris r said...

D Singh

Wholeheartedly agree! And Apostle Tony is doing a valiant job of attempting to provide the 'shared values' of the EU through his Faithless Foundation.

5 May 2009 at 11:29  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

The only people who win in this are the lawyers, whether paid for by the defendant or by the state (usually for the plaintiff). Look how Cherie Blair feathered her nest after her husbands government signed the Human Rights Act. (An example of Cheria Law)

To paraphrase the late great Michael Wharton aka Peter Simple; that's what you get if you elect governments composed of foam flecked radicals, decayed lecturers of further education and slippery lawyers, none of whom have any knowledge of the real world.

It's a wonder that lawyers ever reproduce themselves. Their marriage beds must be hedged about with get out clauses, subclauses, heretofores, prenups, safety certificates, race relations legislation ....

5 May 2009 at 11:43  
Blogger Edwin Greenwood said...

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Your Grace omits to invoke the name of St Oliver Plunkett in this impertinent asseveration. A clear indicator that you are indeed not of the True Fait'

5 May 2009 at 11:46  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2009 at 11:48  
Anonymous Hereward said...

"Your Grace, next time you write on such a topic, I dare you to provide a picture of someone who might, perhaps, look a little like Mohammed might, perhaps, have looked like, holding what might, perhaps, be construed as a pint of Guiness."

And a bacon sandwich.

5 May 2009 at 11:56  
Blogger dutchlionfrans1953 said...

Our governments have nothing better to do than to harrass their populations with evil laws! The Word of God says: "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tim.1: 9,10)

But what is being done today is that our lawmakers occupy themselves with making and enforcing laws against LAWABIDING, righteous citizens, to mold them into their straightjacket / cult of their State religion of Political-Correctism (for lack of a better term)

This evil law, by dumm, shortsighted politicians that embrace the State - religion of RELATIVISTIC-HUMANISM (which actually is contained in Political-Correctism) forbids the preaching of the Gospel.

Giants of the faith like Wesley would be quickly thrown into prison, yeah, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be thrown into jail for preaching a message that insulted His hearers! Scripture continuously says so.

Jesus Christ never preached a 'seeker-friendly' politically-correct pseudo-gospel. He reaped hatred in such a way that it cost Him His life! We should be His followers, in word & in deed, and we wíll make enemies. We wíll be prosecuted. If we do not we are of this world, not of Christ! (John 15 & 16)

Far too long, we, the church of Jesus Christ have been satisfied with the comforts of our day: materialism, hedonism, and apathy.

We are in danger of being spewed out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16) of being Christ's enemy (James 4:4), of being rejected for ever (Matth.5:13; 7:21-23) etc.

Let us REPENT and be willing to give up our lives in doing His Will!

5 May 2009 at 12:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all rather frightening, and further exidence that Europe (even Western Europe) is under siege.

I would much rather tolerate blasphemy than permit Islam to dictate, or even influence, the content of our laws. Their traditions are not ours, and the ends of what appear to be similar causes (i.e., to proscribe blasphemy) are even more different and quite incompatible.

Do liberals not understand what is at stake each time that they seek to appease Muslims. Rather than furthering the integration of members of that belief system (I hesitate to call it a religion), they are simply confirming them in the rightness of their warped understandings of the individual, state society relations, and the Divine.

Europeans will wake up some morning and find that a totalitarian mindset has taken hold of many of their institutions. By then, I fear, it will be too late.

5 May 2009 at 12:44  
Anonymous Chocolate Mousse (Light) said...

Forgive my cynicism, but this new found religiosity should be read in light of the recent endeavours (proposed by a Government TD) to remove the Preamble to the Constitution of its Christian references:

"In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations, Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

We can now take it for granted that the land of St Patrick is to become an Islamic state. Presumably it will also have to be renamed. Any suggestions? Hibernostan, perhaps? The Emerald Mohammad?

5 May 2009 at 13:14  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Chocolate Mouse (Light) - what about:

'Hail glorious Mohammed, dear prophet of our land

You smite all the kuffars with your iron hand

Come over to Erin with sword and with flame

Convert all those catholics to blessing your name'
I'm sure that you will recognise the tune

And a name for the new country? -Mikhistan surely!

5 May 2009 at 14:35  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Trying again.

Chocolate Mouse (Light) - what about :

'Hail glorious Mohammed, dear prophet of our land

You smite all the kuffars with your iron hand

Come over to Erin with sword and with flame

Convert all those catholics to blessing your name'
I'm sure that you will recognise the tune

And a name for the new country? -Mikhistan surely!

5 May 2009 at 14:40  
Blogger ZZMike said...

Good old Oireland - the Blessed Isles.

I read an opinion piece the other day (now buried in the noise) about Ireland, in which the writer described it as a country once "riddled with priests", almost more Catholic than the Pope, where unwed pregnancies were almost unheard of.

Then it went through a period of withdrawal from the Church, brought about by recent scandals, and now they've thrown off the yoke of faith. The scourge of priests has subsided, and unwed pregnancies have shot up, probably on a par with humanist EU.

The economy, which grew rapidly under the oppressive old system, now retreats to bring the country in line with the rest of the EU (i.e., desperate).

Whether there's a connection is a matter of debate, but I think there's a good case for it.

"... possess a ‘world view’ and ‘moral values’ (why are political parties not ‘faith groups’?),..."

I take that as a rhetorical question.

"... and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.’"

Will the courts be asked to judge the intent of the accused?

The concept of freedom of speech and blasphemy laws (I thought those were enacted only in Islamic or medieval countries) is analogous to the old riddle about the irresistable force meeting an immovable object.

The Zen-like solution is, of course, that you cannot have both.

Neither can you have both blasphemy laws and freedom of speech.

But then, "freedom of speech" is a purely American notion. It's served us well these 200+ years, and perhaps, in time, the rest of the world will catch up.

The Irish were sensible enough to reject the EU Constitution - let's hope they're still reasonable enough to laugh this one off the books.

And if they don't, well, they can always remember the Ireland that once was.

5 May 2009 at 17:30  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2009 at 17:40  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5 May 2009 at 18:15  
Anonymous TS Elliot said...

We have become:


5 May 2009 at 19:50  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Don't know about the chemists, McKenzie. Last time I tried to buy over-the-counter tablets I was interrogated by some young mozzie-type female shop assistant who thought she was better educated than me, and who also queried the origin of my surname.

Being in Yorkshire, I informed her that the name was a perfectly good Yorkshire, one - if that was all right by her - and eventually plonked all my intended purchases on the counter, telling her to keep the lot. Not that the petro-rich need to sell anything...

Wish I'd thought to say 'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph' at the time!!

5 May 2009 at 20:10  
Anonymous copperalley said...

You have hit the nail on the head.
The idea of phychologically controling people through a series of catastrophes or media implied ones is the brainchild of the Tavistock Institute. Ireland is just an experimental ground as it is small. If an insiduous law gets passed then it becomes a precident for all EU countries. The press is well controlled in Ireland (effect of the smoking ban nicely suppressed).
Dave Allan is now doing somersaults in his grave.

5 May 2009 at 20:23  
Anonymous Nate said...

What is blasphemous is the notion that Jesus would actually decide on Guinness as his beer of choice!

5 May 2009 at 20:44  
Blogger John MacLeod said...

Horrible, blasphemous image - my patience is through. I'm de-bookmarking this blog immediately.

5 May 2009 at 21:25  
Blogger wonkotsane said...

I wonder if the Irish will follow the example set by the English and quote their religion as "Jedi" on the next census. That opens up a whole load of opportunities for mock offence.

5 May 2009 at 22:00  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr MacLeod,

Patience is through? His Grace has received no forewarning that your patience was being tried.

That is not Jesus in any case: it is Brian.

Or do you believe the Jesus that turned water into wine to be a picture of perpetual misery?

5 May 2009 at 22:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islam is a pile of crap.

6 May 2009 at 02:22  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

Here's a comment from the Irish times

No place for blasphemy lawIT IS tempting to think of punishment for blasphemy as a mediaeval anachronism. In fact, it is very much a contemporary reality. The Pakistani Supreme Court recently upheld a judgment that the only fit punishment for blasphemy is death. In Afghanistan, the journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh received such a sentence last year for distributing an article critical of the status of women within Islamic societies. In Sudan British teacher Gillian Gibbons was convicted of insulting Islam by allowing a child to give the name Mohammed to a teddy bear. As an instrument of repression, the charge of blasphemy is very much in vogue

All of which pushes the decision of Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to propose legislation on the crime of “blasphemous libel” beyond the realms of mere misjudgment and into those of dangerous folly. An amendment to the Defamation Bill would outlaw the deliberate publishing or uttering of anything that is deemed by members of any religion to be “grossly abusive or insulting” to anything that they hold to be sacred. Such speech or writing would be punishable by a fine of up to €100,000.

We should be clear that blasphemy laws have nothing to do with the protection of religious freedom. The founders of most of the world’s major religions were regarded in their own times as blasphemers against the then-established spiritual truth. Jesus Christ himself was, according to the Christian Gospels, tried for blasphemy by the Jewish judiciary, the Sanhedrin. One of the first Christian martyrs, Saint Stephen, was stoned to death for blasphemy. Given the diversity of religious faith, it is almost axiomatic that one person’s sacred truth can be another’s gross insult to God. For the State to legislate against such subjectively perceived insults is to take sides in spiritual and intellectual disputes that are none of its business.

What the State should do – protect people from discrimination or incitement to hatred on religious grounds – is already done through our laws. Anything else is an absurdity, a crank’s charter that makes an ass of the law and a censor of the State. This is why, in 1991, the Law Reform Commission said that a law of blasphemous libel has no place “in a society which respects freedom of speech”. It is why, just last year, the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution recommended that the current (extremely vague) prohibition of blasphemy be deleted from the Constitution.

Instead of following this eminently sensible advice, the Minister has chosen to regard himself as being under an obligation to legislate for that ill-framed constitutional ban. This position might be more convincing if the Minister felt himself similarly obligated in relation, for example, to the X case constitutional judgment on abortion – an area in which the State has steadfastly refused to legislate. It is, however, the height of folly to propose that there is a constitutional imperative to bring in bad laws for which there has been no substantial public demand. If Mr Ahern really feels the need to make Irish law on blasphemy coherent, he should move for a constitutional amendment to get rid of it altogether.

6 May 2009 at 10:56  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7 May 2009 at 03:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

burn the koran and tear down the mosques, and make it a crime to publish, read, and propogate islam

25 November 2009 at 11:57  

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